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Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d'Art Paperback – October 9, 2012
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Christopher Moore is a very sick man, in the very best sense of that word.
[Moore's novels] deftly blend surreal, occult, and even science-fiction doings with laugh-out-loud satire of contemporary culture.
If there's a funnier writer out there, step forward.
Absolutely nothing is sacred to Christopher Moore. The phenomenally popular, New York Times bestselling satirist whom the Atlanta Journal-Constitution calls, Stephen King with a whoopee cushion and a double-espresso imagination has already lampooned Shakespeare, San Francisco vampires, marine biologists, Death
even Jesus Christ and Santa Claus! Now, in his latest masterpiece, SacrÉ Bleu, the immortal Moore takes on the Great French Masters. A magnificent Comedy d'Art from the author of Lamb, Fool, and Bite Me, Moore's SacrÉ Bleu is part mystery, part history (sort of), part love story, and wholly hilarious as it follows a young baker-painter as he joins the dapper Henri Toulouse-Lautrec on a quest to unravel the mystery behind the supposed suicide of Vincent van Gogh.
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What a wonderful treat this book was! Being both a painter AND an author of a series that starts out during the same bohemian art era as this book takes place in, I long for fiction that uses the era of Impressionism as its backdrop - and that is extremely difficult to find. When a good friend of mine told me she had just read this book it took me about 2 seconds to download it. I wasn't disappoined, not even for one minute.
All of the famous painters that were mentioned and had roles in this story came to clear life and immersed me into my favorite period in history. I have often wished I could go back to that era and for awhile Mr. Moore allowed me to live there. Readers who are expecting stuffy history will be greatly disappointed. These artists were anything but stuffy! Their dialog is rough, sexual, and funny, also he didn't try to make them "sound" nineteenth century, which I appreciated, since the artists WERE ahead of their time.
Lucien and his family were so well developed and funny that every day on my treadmill found me laughing out loud at times. What a pleasure it was to read their interactions! Poopstick (The Colorman) and the muse (most often Juliette) became so real that by the time I was finished I was almost convinced they actually existed. And who's to say they didn't? And, by the way, Lucien was so likable that he soon felt like my best friend.
Henri Toulouse-Lautrec (who most of us know was a real person) had a main role in the story and I loved the artistic freedom the author took with this artist, making him a funny,interesting man that brought a smile to my lips with every encounter. (One of the revviewers was offended with his portrayal, saying because of his deformed body it was a fact that he couldn't perform sexually. She would do well do relearn her art history, as Henri died of syphillis.It was also a well known rumor that he had enlarged sexual organs.)
So many other famous artists, along with Theo van Gogh, Vincent's brother and art dealer, Tanguey (the art supply dealer) have brief parts in this story. As a painter I just can't say enough wonderful things about this all too brief jounrey into the great decadent bohemian Montmarte during the late nineteenth century.
Very cool. Thank you for this fabulous story. I didn't want it to end!
Moore is a really good writer, his descriptions are wonderful and witty and I loved the premise of this book. One of my favourite parts is Claude Monet painting his series in Gare Saint Lazare, and the wonderfully weird way it happens. The unfolding of the plot had me captivated from the beginning and kept me interested to the very last page. Although this is the first Christopher Moore book I have read, I will look for others by the same author just to see how it stacks up.
"Sacre Bleu" does indeed have a slow start, it took me about 40-50 pages before I really got interested in the story and characters. But once I did I was on the hook for the journey. I won't rehash plot points here, but I will tell you that like in "Fool" Moore makes many events from history (especially Art History) look like the result of the machinations of some of the novel's main characters, in this case the muse Bleu, and a character known as The Colorman. It is a clever device, and one that makes the reading experience for this text richer. The numerous historical allusions that Moore incorporates into the plot also add to the humorous and witty aspects of the work.
Christopher Moore is well known to be an avid researcher, and this is clearly evident in "Sacre Bleu". The novel is very well researched and the Paris of the last half of the nineteenth century comes alive in Moore's hands. The book's research also rewards the close reader as Moore incorporates sporadic and quick mentions of minor historical details that make the experience of the novel even fuller. If you catch the details great, if not, no major loss.
Some fun bits in the book are how the Paris art scene from 1850 to 1900 is cleverly linked and interwoven in the text. It is not historically accurate, as Moore freely says, but it ties the plot lines up in a nice bow, and makes for satisfying linking of some of the major players in the Parisian art world at that time. I also love how Moore (better than anyone else) incorporates modern speech patterns into historical settings and characters. They pop out at the funniest times, and provide some of the biggest laughs of the book.
Moore has an innate skill at seamlessly blending the supernatural and fantastical into "realistic" moments in a text. He does this in such an unobtrusive and seamless manner that I rarely, if ever, get disengaged because of some of the more fantastical aspects he invents. That is no minor skill, and he does this with great artistry in "Sacre Bleu".
At its core "Sacre Bleu" is a love letter to the Impressionists and the movements in Art that they spawned and nurtured. It is also a serious comment on what Art is, and how much it takes to create it. And it tells a whopping good story, and is funny. Enough said!
Part mystical fantasy, part detective mystery, part art history lesson, with irreverent comedy mixed in.